By Emily Jade Ricalton
Professionally known as Grimes, a female artist paving the way for the world of weird in music, Claire Elise Boucher, in more recent years has been classified and defined by her personal relationships rather than her career as a talented musician – something typical of female artists within the music industry.
Releasing her first album, Geidi Primes, back in 2010, Boucher rose to fame just 2-years later, with her second debut album, Visions, smashing the vision of contemporary pop into pieces and recreating a soft, yet saddening version that suddenly became a lot more interesting in comparison to other popular female artists of its time; I mean, Call Me Maybe wasn’t exactly a hard track to beat.
Unlike the rest of the pop scene, Grimes created music that was not only lyrically unique, but vibrant within structure and contagious within beat. Her music was an artful craft of her past experiences; experiences that are typical and deceitful towards the female gender. These experiences were highlighted in two of the biggest tracks from her second album. Oblivion detailed a street attack that was sustained by Grimes herself, and Be A Body further explored the struggles of having to reconnect with our physicality on an increasingly intimate level.
As quite obviously stated, Visions stood as a representation of lost control. Grimes put her vulnerability out into the world through music, suggesting that this masterpiece was a sign of reclaiming power after having situations of violation happen to yourself. Whether this was a result of her attack or not, it is obvious that Boucher saw her music as a void of empowerment, allowing young girls to listen to music that expressed their submissive pain on an increasingly deeper, yet hidden level.
Grimes’ music had become a significant staple to the empowerment of women, giving young women an outlook to relate to and understand. But, what happened to someone who was key to the empowerment of women? And why are we suddenly objectifying her appearance and career on the outcomes of her personal relationships? One solution I can say is that women, especially within music, are subjected to the man they are with – no matter their position or previous success. Just like the rest of society, men tend to be hierarchal to the opposite sex, undermining women of their voice to speak out against misogynistic views.
Now, I’m not blaming this on Boucher’s other half, who we’ll go on to discuss, but I’m blaming this on the media and their representations of ‘celebrity couples’.
In the eyes of tabloid papers, women have no previous success or career to their husband/boyfriend; instead, the man funds their lifestyle and determines their future within fame. However, the painful reality of this situation is usually untrue. Women can be and are just as successful as their partners, something that has been completely disregarded in Grimes’ career.
In November 2015, Grimes proved this statement wrong. Her third and most successful album, Art Angels, was released, later becoming NME’s Album of the Year and one Billboard’s Top 25 Albums of the year, peaking at number one within the US Top Alternative Albums. As well as this, it received high ratings from the likes of Pitchfork Magazine, ranking a high 8.5 stars, and Rolling Stone Magazine, peaking at a mere 3.5 stars. Nevertheless, Art Angels was highly-regarded in the industry, establishing the Candian singer as someone to watch out for within the world of music.
Having said that, the album still touched upon elements of disrespect and disassociation to women and the female body in general. As concluded in a recent Guardian article, deputy music editor, Laura Snapes, claimed that the album was full of ‘songs of betrayal, commodification, sacrifice and (the) disconnection from her persona’, resulting in Grimes’ dismissal and rejection of the album itself. In an interview with Cultured Magazine, she labelled the album as a ‘piece of crap’, claiming that ‘people really misread it… it feels like a stain on my life’.
She continued to state that the album wasn’t meant to be a pop piece, but a ‘genre exercise’ that could show listeners what she could do as producer and how she could develop her skills in this area of practice. As this was something different and quite unique to the music industry, it was just as heavily criticised as it was praised by reviewers, with the Guardian claiming that the album ‘fails to comprehensively blow your mind’. But, was this criticism just a result of Grime’s controversia, yet real entrance to the false atmosphere of the music industry? One might assume so, especially as she is a young female artist that tends to expose her inner insecurities; something I find to be quite brave and inspiring actually.
Despite her powers within female rights and feminine confidence, Grimes brought much media attention to herself in 2018 when she started dating the multi-millionaire and owner of Tesla, Elon Musk. Musk has always been a controversial figure – from endorsing the Republican Party back in 2016 to smashing a car window that was supposedly ‘indestructible’, it is obvious to see that he wasn’t the best choice of partner for the female activist.
After their first appearance together at the 2018 Met Gala, Grimes faced massive backlash for falling in love with someone her fans and peers did not approve of. But, despite our doubts, their relationship seems to work and Boucher seems to be comfortable within her relationship – surely that’s all that matters, right?
Well, apparently not. As she told Cultured Magazine, Grimes admitted that even though love is a ‘beautiful thing’, her relationship with Musk has had a dramatic negative affect upon her career – destroying the reputation that she has built for herself as a young, emerging and very talented pop artist. According to online reports, Grimes has had to kill her persona off, becoming ‘c’ as a result of being accused of selling out her morals to be with a billionaire.
But this just isn’t simply true. Now seven months pregnant with Musk’s child, it is obvious to see that their relationship is serious and that they are happy with each other. After all, a child is a big commitment and if Boucher fans can’t see that, then they were obviously never a fan in the first place.
After seeing Grimes live in 2016, I’ve been a fan of her work and have never judged her on her own relationships – quite simply, it isn’t my place to get involved and I don’t know her personally to make a judgement, I just like her music.
I find in the society we live in, with our constant obsession with the media in general, we believe we have a level of involvement in everyone’s lives. The notion of social media exposes everyone’s personal secrets and I just don’t believe we have the place to say anything when we don’t know someone on a close and intimate level.
Over the years, our judgement of Elon and Claire’s relationship has objectified this artist’s career, depriving her of the achievement and success that she deserves. She hasn’t built a platform off of Musk’s money, she achieved fame on her own, and if you disagree with me, then you obviously haven’t listened to Grimes before or were aware of her musical talents. And, if that’s the case, educate yourself before you make a sudden judgement- our thoughts and words can have a great impact on the lives of people we talk about online.
I think my aim for this article wasn’t to educate you about Grime’s current life, but to warn you about the discrimination that women in music and women in general face because of their personal lives. Musk hasn’t received backlash over his relationship with the Canadian singer, so why should she? After all, we can’t help who we fall in love with (channel your inner thirteen-year-old self, you know you’ve experienced the same situation too).
Boucher’s recent album as Grimes, as you’ll be happy to know, came out 21 February 2020. Titled ‘Miss Anthropocene’ the synthpop album is making headlines, receiving a four-star rating from the Guardian already. This album is definitely the comeback Grimes needed.